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Politics

Walker administration seeks fact-checker for fiscal plan

  • Author: Nathaniel Herz
  • Updated: September 28, 2016
  • Published November 17, 2015

The administration of Gov. Bill Walker is looking for a financial consultant to fact-check a proposal Walker wants to use to bail out the state from its fiscal crisis.

Alaska's $5 billion budget for this year relies on about $3 billion in savings, thanks to a crash in oil-based revenues that have typically paid for state services.

Walker is proposing to convert the $52 billion Permanent Fund and other state financial assets into an endowment-like account that could generate $3.3 billion each year. But the proposal, which the Walker administration developed itself, includes a set of financial assumptions about factors like investment earnings and inflation.

The state Department of Revenue issued a request for proposals Friday for a firm that could give "external validation of this model and its assumptions."

"If we're going to really decide that what we're going to stake the state's future on is the earnings from $60 billion, and flowing the money in a particular way, then we'd better have our ducks in a row," Jerry Burnett, deputy revenue commissioner, said in a phone interview Tuesday.

He said Revenue Commissioner Randy Hoffbeck recently asked for the RFP, telling Burnett the state needed to hire expert consultants "without a dog in the fight."

The consultants would "vet our models, look at what we've done and what our assumptions are, and assuming that we go forward with this and that everything works out, be available to explain to the Legislature that the Walker administration is telling you the truth," Burnett said.

The request for proposals calls for the winning firm to be paid no more than $500,000. It will create presentations for lawmakers and for public meetings, as well as write a report of findings and recommendations for the revenue department itself in time for the start of next year's legislative session in mid-January.

Proposals are due to the revenue department by Monday and the winning firm will start work in early December.

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